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24 How do I Write a Response Essay?

Pre-writing steps:

  • Read the essay prompt carefully.
  • Activate schema

Actively read the assigned article.

Analyze the article to determine the rhetorical situation.

  • Consider your own thoughts about the article.
  • Decide how you want to respond.

Conference #1

Structure your essay.

  • Outline the essay you want to write.

Draft a working thesis.

Drafting the essay:

Write a summary of the article as your introduction.

Write 3 or more body paragraphs in response to the article.

Review your draft so far.

Write the conclusion to summarize your thoughts.

Revising steps:

Peer review

Conference #2

  • Revise your essay.
  • Proofread your essay.


Read the essay prompt carefully

  • Highlight or note the important points
  • Ask questions for any part that isn’t clear to you.
  • Retrieve your assigned article.

Activate schema.

  • Skim and scan the article to identify the topic and the author(s).  Look for subtitles and boldly printed words.  Read the author’s bio which is often located at the beginning or at the end of the article.  Identify the publication.  Read the first sentence of each paragraph.  Ask yourself, “Am I familiar with this topic?” This will help you to activate your schema.
  • identify the key points and ideas
  • make note of where you agree or disagree
  • highlight impactful sentences to quote the author later
  • paraphrase the author’s words
  • summarize the article
  • What is the message?
  • What is the context?
  • Who is the author?
  • What is the author’s purpose?
  • What is the structure of the text?
  • Who is the audience?

Consider your own thoughts about the author and their message.

  • What do I think about this topic?
  • Is this author trustworthy?
  • Is the article written to inform or persuade me?
  • If it is written to persuade, on which points do I agree or disagree?
  • Is the author biased?
  • Does the article have an objective or subjective tone?
  • What did I like or dislike about what the author has written in this article?
  • What made the most sense to me? What was confusing about this article?

Decide how to respond.

There are several ways in which to respond to an article.  You may choose a type of response from the following list:

  • Before/After- Discuss your thoughts about this topic before you read the article, then explain what you learned from the article using evidence from the text.
  • Persuasion- Discuss which parts of the articles you found convincing and/or which parts of the article you did not find convincing.
  • Agreement or Disagreement- Discuss an idea that the author presented to which you agree or disagree. If there were two points of view that were presented, explain which one you agree with and explain why.
  • Affect- Explain the emotional effect that the article had on you. Explain why you responded that way including your own background and your own thoughts/ experiences.
  • Association- Share something from the article that is similar to your own experience.  Or relate the information to a different article that you have read before this article.
  • Most students wait until they have a draft, but seriously, this is the best time to talk to a writing tutor about your project.
  • HCC has several options for free tutoring. Best choice: after class, drop in at the Composition and Learning Center (CLC) in Duncan Hall 210. This is staffed by current HCC English professors, and you can talk to one for 10-20 minutes about your assignment and your ideas for your topic, and what to include in your essay.
  • There are also drop-in tutors at the Learning Assistance Center (LAC) in RCF 340.
  • an introduction- a summary paragraph of the article
  • a response- 3 or more body paragraphs responding to the author
  • a conclusion- a concluding paragraph summing up your thoughts.

Outline the essay your want to write.

  • Use the structure of the response essay to determine the order of each paragraph.  Gather your notes. Review the way you chose to respond.   Write a main idea statement for each paragraph of your essay.  Then, list (using bullet points) the details that you want to include under each main idea statement. You can also list relevant quotes from the article that support your ideas.
  • A thesis includes your topic and what you are going to say about this topic.
  • A thesis always has two parts: a topic AND something important about this topic that your essay is going to discuss.
  • A thesis is NEVER a question.
  • Use your notes and the rhetorical situation of the article to write a summary.  Begin with an introductory sentence that introduces the publisher, author, topic, purpose, and the main idea of the article.
  • Next, write a few sentences to describe the key points the author made to support the main idea.
  • End your summary with your thesis.
  • During your pre-writing, you decided how you might want to respond to the article.  Use your outline to draft your body paragraphs.  Use your synthesis skills to corporate relevant quotes from the article into paragraphs to support your ideas.
  • Is your summary of the article concise, objective, and accurate?
  • Do your body paragraphs respond to the article?
  • Do you have a main idea for each of the body paragraphs?
  • Do the sentences in each paragraph support each main idea?
  • This question is extremely important.  If you find that you did not respond to the article in the way you had originally planned, revise your thesis.
  • End your essay by summarizing the main points you shared in your body paragraphs.
  • A classmate; a friend; a relative: ask someone to read over your work. Note their questions as they read.
  • At the very least, read your essay aloud to yourself, stopping when you get tripped up in words or sentences. Consider how to make these rough spots easier to read.
  • Schedule a conference with your instructor, or drop in on their student/office hours, or send them a Zoom request to talk about any questions you have about your draft.
  • You can also drop in at the CLC in DH210 or LAC in RCF 340 to have a conference with a tutor.

Revise your essay

  • Look at your outline: have you forgotten anything?
  • Do a paragraph outline of just main idea sentences for each paragraph: you’ll have a 5-7 sentence summary of your whole essay.

Proofread your essay

  • take on an objective tone?
  •  introduce the article properly?
  • capture the main point of the article?
  • respond to the article?
  • capture your thoughts and opinions?
  • begin with a main idea statement followed by detail?
  • include quotes from the article?
  • concisely review your thoughts about the article?
  • Major grammar errors include run-on sentences, comma splices, and sentence fragments.
  • You are responsible for running Grammarly or another grammar/spellcheck before your essay is submitted.
  • Your instructors want to focus on improving your WRITING—not technical errors that machines can catch easily.
  • Use Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines for formatting your academic essay and for any in-text citations or a Works Cited page.

College Reading & Writing: A Handbook for ENGL- 090/095 Students Copyright © by Yvonne Kane; Krista O'Brien; and Angela Wood. All Rights Reserved.

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  1. 24 How do I Write a Response Essay?

    A response essay consists of 5-7 paragraphs: an introduction- a summary paragraph of the article; a response- 3 or more body paragraphs responding to the author; a conclusion- a concluding paragraph summing up your thoughts. Outline the essay your want to write. Use the structure of the response essay to determine the order of each paragraph.